A group of four alumni smile standing in front of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute on Birmingham, Alabama.

Shivam Bhargava ’22, Dr. Benjeil Edghill ’98, Pam Kelley, and Dinita James ’81 on the second day of the civil rights tour in Birmingham, Alabama.

Written by Shivam Bhargava ’22, program manager at Asian Health Coalition in Chicago and a Global Health Corps U.S. Fellow

In April, I participated in the Morehead-Cain Civil Rights tour of the South with around thirty alumni and guests to learn more about our country’s history and struggle for racial justice.

As a public health professional who works with communities of color in Chicago, it is critical for me to understand the historical context of the inequities and discrimination I see in the communities that I work with. By making these connections to history, I hope this will prepare me to be a more caring and compassionate physician prepared to treat individuals of all backgrounds.

This trip gave me the space to think deeply about systemic racism and how that relates back to modern day social issues like health disparities and education inequities. I left with a better idea of how history relates back to today.

I was able to connect the parallels between the civil rights movement and segregation to issues such as police brutality and the Supreme Court ruling against affirmative action. I left this trip feeling inspired and motivated to make a change, knowing that history is still repeating itself in many ways in our country today.

One of my favorite moments from the trip was connecting with alum Dave Brunson ’64. After realizing that I was the youngest alumnus on the trip, and he was the oldest alumnus, we immediately connected over our stark differences in experiences at Carolina.

I asked Dave for one piece of advice for my future, and he said to “never stop learning, no matter what age you are.” I was inspired by his advice as I watched him take notes throughout the trip on everything he was learning related to the civil rights era.

I was impressed as he pulled out his iPad and jotted down new epiphanies and reflections after going through every museum room. As I continue to progress through life, I only hope to have half the thirst for knowledge and love for learning that Dave continues to have.

More about Morehead-Cain Alumni Journeys

The next trip will be to London from September 22–29, 2024 to celebrate the 55th anniversary of the British Morehead-Cain Program. Learn more about group travel through Morehead-Cain Alumni Journeys.